Finally, it happened.
After over seven months of baby bliss (okay, this is an exaggeration, but stay with me) Emma and I were woken by a soft whimpering coming from Hannah’s bedroom at five in the morning. I know what you are thinking – isn’t crying at ungodly hours a rite of passage of new parents? Well, for us it was highly unusual. Hannah has been a capable night-time sleeper since birth. Other than a few restless nights early on, she has followed baby night-time sleeping patterns to the letter. So, when we heard those soft little sorrowful sounds, we knew straight away something was up.
I found the thermometer and gently measured Hannah’s temperature, although a quick feel of the forehead gave us a fair indication. A temperature of 38.3 registered.
My first reaction was that I should call in sick to work. After all, this was our baby’s first illness. What if she was seriously ill? What if we needed to take her to hospital? What if…? However, Emma assured me that it was most likely just a little bug and that Hannah would be okay without my worried hovering. Reluctantly, I agreed that I would go to work.
Before leaving for work, however, I was tasked with administering the Panadol. This should have been a reasonably straight forward task. The liquid dose is measured using a syringe, which is then used to gently squeeze the medicine into the infant’s mouth, a few drops at a time. Simple enough, right? It started well, I managed to squeeze a drop onto the end of the syringe and let Hannah taste it. Her response was fairly positive and she allowed the end of the syringe to remain in her mouth with minimal fuss. I gently pushed the end of the syringe again, but it didn’t move. I applied more pressure until suddenly the entire contents of the syringe came squirting out with the force of a fireman’s hose, into Hannah’s mouth. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the shocked look on her face. Thankfully, she swallowed the medicine.
With a temperature, Hannah’s mood swung wildly. She could be coaxed into laughing and playing, but often she would show frustration and become upset. Emma had booked a doctor’s appointment for that evening, so we all went up to the clinic. A young, newly graduated doctor kindly reassured that Hannah most likely had a virus and that she’d be feeling better in a few days. Sure enough, by the evening of the next day her fever had broken and she had returned to her normal self.
Then the cough started. Then came the runny, blocked nose. That was two days ago and neither shows much sign of going away anytime soon. Both of these things bother Hannah much more than the high temperature. The cough wakes her from naps and during night-time sleeps. The runny nose is worse. It makes being on her back uncomfortable for any amount of time. Times when Hannah would usually play happily by herself on the floor are now mostly spend holding her in an upright position. From Hannah’s perspective, this arrangement actually works out quite well. It means she has on hand the world’s most giant tissue, in the form of Dad. That’s right, my current purpose in life is ‘snot rag’ (I’ve had less fulfilling jobs). At least she appears to feel a bit better after a solid session of rubbing-nose-on-Dad.
I have heard that parents of three-year old children can expect them to be sick about six times per year, and that each time it can last up to ten days. I guess I have a few more days as a snot rag ahead of me.
What worked for us
- A decent thermometer. We use a Braun ear thermometer. After trying many thermometers we found this to be by far the quickest, easiest and most accurate way to measure Hannah’s (and our own) temperature. Keep in mind that these are not ideal for babies in the first few months, as their ear canals are too small for a really accurate reading (nothing is really ideal for babies in the first few months).
- Baby Panadol. I always have this in the cupboard. It is our go-to when Hannah’s temperature rises and it has provided her with noticeable relief fairly quickly each time we have had to use it.
- Visit the doctor. We are fortunate in Australia to have a world leading health care system. Quality doctors are accessible day and night, and many use bulk-billing. Even if you think it is just a cold, check in with your doctor.
- Saline nasal spray. We have used this regularly during this current sickness. At first, Hannah was very reluctant to have it near her nose and it was very difficult to administer. However, after many uses, she has become more used to it. It does a great job of washing the gunk out of the nose, allowing for easier breathing.
- Distraction. Hannah has been an absolute trooper during this whole experience. When she has felt up to it, a good play has had her babbling and giggling as normal.
- Plenty of liquids. Hannah hasn’t eaten much in the way of solids for the past few days. It hurts her throat to swallow, so anything more solid than a puree has been rejected after a few mouthfuls. She has received most of her sustenance from breastmilk, with regular fluid top-ups of cooled boiled water.
- Cuddles. At times the only thing that has made Hannah comfortable has been being held by a parent. As mentioned above, this has the added bonus for her of easy access to a parent-sized tissue.
Please remember that I am not a health care expert, and I am not giving medical advice. This is purely a recount of my own family’s experience and what worked for me. Results may vary according to the situation. If you ever have any doubt about the state of your child’s health, take them straight to a doctor or to the emergency department at your local hospital. Your child’s health and welfare should always be the most important priority. NEVER WORRY ABOUT ‘LOOKING STUPID’ OR ‘OVERREACTING’!